By Mike Lawson
Political intrigue so thick and complex you need a road map to chart its course. A cast of characters so numerous you need a score card to separate the teams of bad guys. Way too many people with way too much power, so one little glitch could cause the entire house to fall. The glitch may come in the form of Joe DeMarco, an all around 'gopher' to the U.S. Speaker of the House, who wants only to take advantage of some free time to play golf. This is what makes up Mike Lawson's latest thriller, “House Divided.”
DeMarco is called by a D.C. homicide detective because his name was found on a murder victim, a distant relation. Only wanting to dispense with the handling of the arrangements, DeMarco nevertheless gets drawn into the case and its anomalies. Meanwhile, a department in the National Security Agency that (illegally) eavesdropped on the communication between the murderers, is also on the investigating trail. Also in the game is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who (like everybody else) has secrets to hide and an agenda of his own. And we can't forget an agent of the FBI who receives under the table money. With everybody racing to be the first to the truth (or to keep it covered up), DeMarco must weave his way through the obstacles while not only worrying about the future of his job, but his life.
This is another story where the power players in government rear their ugly heads. Again (and probably not undeserving), the NSA is the snake in the grass with more gadgets, technology, and nasty bad guys (and gals) than they deserve. The plot connections throughout are tenuous at the beginning until you figure out the characters and what each is trying to accomplish. Then the threads slowly start to come together.
Joe DeMarco – Not the innocent all American boy as he works to keep his boss', the Speaker of the House, butt out of the wringer. He likes his free time and doesn't want to be involved in any hard work. I'm reminded a little bit of James Rockford, but without as much humor.
Dillon – The supervisor of the secret deparment of the NSA who is doing the illegal wire tapping. He's in the know and knows way too much about way too many people. His justification behind his illegal actions is he's trying to prevent another 9/11.
Clare Whiting – Dillon's second in command in his department. She's ruthless, hard-hearted, determined, no-nonsense, and doesn't like failure or questions without answers, especially from her underlings. Her motivations comes from a fiance who was killed on 9/11 when the plane crashed into the Pentagon.
Charles Bradford – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is behind the killing of the man which starts the story. He's been involved in some illegal assassinations around the world. His reasoning is he thinks the president is weak and won't do what is necessary to stop terrorists and others who hate America.
There are other supporting characters each very well defined in his or her roll. I like how Lawson gives each character a purpose, a reason behind their actions. This is not just a bunch of people running around power hungry and mad. Still, it raises the question of whether the end justifies the means. I do like the DeMarco's attitude (shared by the author) that I'm sure about me, but I'm not too sure about thee.
Fitting to each character. Conversations are to the point with no wandering off into confusing areas.
Lots of details, but nothing confusing. Long passages to explain the set up of many scenes, but nothing too boring. Action scenes begin and end quickly.
Lawson explains technology in layman's terms so readers aren't lost in the minutiae. If you're not a fan of political intrigue, this isn't for you. If you like a potential government 'blow up', then you will enjoy this one.